Clement of Rome
You’ll get what you give, Jesus says. Forgive and be forgiven. Judge and be judged. Compassion. Accusation. There’s reciprocity in relationship. Don’t give what you don’t want to get, especially with feedback, correction, or teaching, acknowledge your own needs. Keep at own work first. “Take the log out of your own eye so you can even rightly see the speck in your neighbor’s.” You might need help. Logs are heavy. Jesus gives a direct word because community is hard work. We need each other. It’s easy to find fault, to hold onto hurt, distance, and cut off.
Today we remember Clement of Rome, an early church leader. There was division at the church in Corinth when some younger leaders convinced the whole to remove the ruling elders. Clement wrote a pastoral letter calling the community to stick it out and abide together, to keep and listen to its elders. Clement called for maintaining hierarchy and for balance with mutuality. For a couple centuries, some included Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians in the New Testament. Clement wrote: “All work together and are mutually subject for the preservation of the whole body.”
I imagine Clement’s letter was like Jesus’ instruction: Don’t judge each other. Forgive. Take the log out of your own eye. You’ll get what you give. And give what you’ve got. Give the best you’ve received. Clement had been slave and was freed. He took the name of his former owner which means “mercy.” I expect his story shaped his caregiving. From gratitude, he lived what he received.
If you’re finding fault in another, holding onto hurt, or wanting to throw someone out—which happens at holiday gatherings—consider: What have you received? What’s the best you’ve got? Act from your gratitude from experiences of mercy, forgiveness, and love. Such gifts, such abiding with one another, helps, heals, and preserves the whole body.
Like Blessed Clement of Rome, live from gratitude, from the best gifts received.
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